This blog always surprises me: new fiber is discovered, techniques are learned, and community is built day by day. This weekend’s indie dyer feature came to me unexpectedly when Nicole Bottles of The Spinnacle Fiber Arts contacted me via email. She sent links to some beautiful fiber and butterfly buttons. How could I resist digging a little deeper? Nicole has been working with fiber her whole life and has an eye for color and sparkle. I, personally, love the little butterflies and the texture of her yarn all knit up into some lace (see a photo of it below!). Nicole was kind enough to respond to some interview questions, which I’ve shared below; and she shared some beautiful photos. Cheers to our indie, fiber community! Oh, and, “KNITTINGTHESTASH” is a 20% off coupon for YOU (on orders over $15, until September 17, 2017). Thanks, Nicole!!
How did you get started in the fiber arts world?
My grandmother taught me to knit one humid summer day when I was 7, and I’ve been stitching up a storm ever since. Fast forward a decade, and my aunt and uncle gave me fiber for my birthday. I quickly realized that spinning yarn was amazing physiotherapy for my legs, and as a bonus, I created yarn! I use a wheelchair, and am currently battling Lyme disease, which puts restraints on my energy, but I love and need the challenge and joy of creation. The fiber arts are my sanity!
How did you get into dyeing?
I was spellbound the first time I knit with indie-dyed yarn after a lifetimes worth of acrylic. I instantly knew it was something I wanted to try my hand at, and naively stocked up on Kool-Aid and naked yarn. I had no idea what I was doing, so I just threw stuff in a jar and said a silent prayer to the yarn gods. My first yarn was solar dyed, and I felt like one of the witches in Macbeth, standing over my glass cauldron, adding in layers of color. I pulled the yarn from the dye bath, and it was a riot of unexpected colors, and I was hooked. I realized dyeing was the art form I’d been waiting to stumble across!
What is your favorite fiber to dye?
That changes all the time, but right now it would probably be my “All that Glitters” base. 85% SW Merino, 16% Gold Stellina! I love the way it glistens in the dye bath, like pyrite in a river. The stellina takes some color too, which creates depth to the yarns. I also really love the way the worsted SW Merino “Valens” base soaks up dye in those nice 4 ply strands.
How do you go about carding batts?
I actually started on this crazy Spinnacle journey by spinning and carding batts, before branching into dyeing. I loved the idea of being able to create the exact color and fiber blends I wanted to spin, giving you control over every aspect of your craft, which I love. Where else can you find a BFL, cashmere, yak, carbonized bamboo, rose silk yarn, except the one you craft yourself?! I usually begin with a vision of color and texture for the batts, and I gather up handfuls of fluff, trying to combine them in my minds eye. I often ‘paint’ silken fibers or locks directly on the drum, for an ethereal yet structured look. Sometimes I let my creative side go wild, and challenge myself to choose colors I wouldn’t usually put together, or at random (which is scary, but has yielded some of my favourite batt sets). I love the meditation of carding the drum around and around, and then rolling the batts up into sweet little “battlings”, as I call them. It’s peaceful. Hard work, but very zen.
Where do you find inspiration?
I live, eat, and breathe color, and am always jotting down ideas for new shades. I’m synesthetic, which for me means sound and taste has color. I am a musician, and almost always have my headphones in, jamming to my latest musical obsession (a mix of Beyonce, Faure, and Hamilton Mixtape currently). Often chords in a song become a colorway. Or a line in a TV show that made me laugh, or perhaps the color palette of a film. I live on beautiful Vancouver Island, on the far West Coast of Canada, and am blessed to be surrounded by snowy mountains, temperate rainforest, farmland, and the ocean
Any advice for new dyers?
Get messy. Experiment. Push yourself out of your color comfort zone as often as you can. Embrace the wild skeins, and the funky colorways you create along the way. And if you truly bomb a color, overdye it. Let yourself be a child and explore.
Where can folks find your shop online?
I also have a website, at www.thespinnaclefiberarts.com
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Thanks so much, Nicole!
I love meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are an indie dyer, a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)